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by Willie Waffle

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Tristan & Isolde

Part Gladiator, part Braveheart, part Romeo and Juliet, Tristan & Isolde is all boring. It's a movie you should not see unless you have 3 cups of coffee or 3 liters of cola in your system. You'll need the caffeine.

Set in the Dark Ages and based on an old legend (with many variations), James Franco stars as Tristan - a young Brit raised by a tribal chief, Marke (Rufus Sewell), after his father is killed while plotting the unification of British tribes to fight the Irish King Donnchadh (David O'Hara). In a massive battle, Tristan appears to die at the hands of an Irish soldier, and is set off onto the sea complete with funeral pyre. His boat washes up on the Irish shore, where he is discovered by the unhappy Irish Princess Isolde (Sophia Myles), who nurses him back to health while lying about her true identity. They fall madly in love, but, when Tristan returns to Britannia, a new offensive is being planned to defeat the Irish.

What will happen if he meets up with Isolde again? Will Tristan show allegiance to Isolde or Marke?

Tristan & Isolde is a lifeless, boring, passionless story of no consequence. Writer Dean Georgaris creates an overly straight forward story with little in the line of drama or surprise. Every moment is predictable, the dialogue forgettable and he never includes some sub-plots to complicate the story or challenge the audience. Director Kevin Reynolds competently shoots all of the scenes, but it's everything you expect from close-ups on the two lovers gazing into each others eyes to marauding soldiers storming the castle. Reynolds makes everything look appropriately dull and dark (it is the DARK ages after all), but didn't give the audience any stunning scenes. This leaves the actors to do what they can to excite us, but they fail just as badly.

I am a huge fan of James Franco, but I think that has changed after this movie. He seems to be sleepwalking all the way through, as his reactions in love scenes are just as bland as common discussions with his buddies. Myles has impressed me in other movies (like Thunderbirds), and does what she can here without much help, so I hope she gets better work in the future. I think she is the victim of a bad script and a co-star who isn't clicking with her. Finally, Sewell, the Wal-Mart of actors (he's cheap, but very good) does the best job of anyone else in Tristan & Isolde by adding little nuances to his character that aren't on the pages of the dull script. He has the best reactions and passion all throughout the movie.

Marketing materials for the movie have been saying before Romeo and Juliet, there was Tristan & Isolde, but no one will confuse Georgaris for Shakespeare.

1 Waffles (Out Of 4)

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